Defunding NPR is a distraction

The recent firing of Juan Williams from NPR has been all over the news, particularly FOX news, this past weekend. I decided to read further into the outrage over his firing and found that the campaign to defund NPR is merely a way for FOX news to bash NPR as a liberal broadcast among other things.

First and foremost, Juan Williams was fired due to a breach of contract. Apparently Juan had been warned a few times in the past about giving his opinion too often while reporting for NPR. NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller stated Sunday that

Juan’s comments on Fox News last Monday were the latest in a series of deeply troubling incidents over several years. In each of those instances, he was contacted and the incident was discussed with him. He was explicitly and repeatedly asked to respect NPR’s standards and to avoid expressing strong personal opinions on controversial subjects in public settings, as that is inconsistent with his role as an NPR news analyst.

I can respect NPR for firing Juan Williams. True journalism is about presenting the facts in the most objective way possible. Most Americans are used to news stations reporting on the topic and then following it up with telling us how to feel on the issue.

Secondly, I am not sure the funding coming directly from the taxpayers constitutes such an outcry from FOX news.  NPR reports that tmost of their funding is received from “station programming fees.” These fees are from host stations, many of which are on public institutions in the form of schools. So it is argued that the taxpayers dollar is being spent by the university to fund the broadcast.

The next largest chunk of funding comes from “sponsorships.” These sponsorships come primarily from advertisements. Many people are arguing that the advertisements are tax deductible and therefore costing the taxpayer.

The third largest chunk of funding comes from “grants and contributions.” The cite does not denote how much funds come from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting which is primarily funded by the federal government. As a libertarian I see the absurdity in forcing taxpayers to pay for public schools and the CPB. However, I am not sure it is worth complaining about right now. 

Its seems as though Juan Williams was fired for sharing his opinion on television while representing NPR. FOX news is trying to use this story to prove that the liberal media is shutting out the conservative voice. The amount of public funds going to NPR is hard to estimate, however, if it is not coming directly from the federal governement then we would need to look at all the other government funded institutions (the public schools and the CPB) that are in turn funding NPR. Even after analyzing the funds I am not even sure it is worth our time. There are other more pressing issues such as the debt, deficits, and the Fed to expose.

I am open to any comments and ideas. Please share!

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